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This balance means that both sides can break even in the long run. For example, if you remove the two extra green numbers 0 and 00 from the roulette wheel, the game now becomes a zero expectation game because it has 36 numbers, 18 red and 18 black.
Any bet on red or black would be a zero expectation bet. In other words, when you bet on one color, your chances for winning and losing are equal, just like flipping a coin.
In order to make a profit, they need to add in those two extra green numbers to change the odds in roulette.
So your even money bet moves from a zero expectation to a negative expectation. It may not happen right then. You may defy the bad odds for a while and win, but over time you will lose.
Craps provides another good example. Say you bet that the dice will total seven on the next throw. If you win, you are paid 4 to 1.
That difference may not sound like a major change, but the house edge on that bet is a whopping And a negative expectation bet for you is a positive for the casino.
Positive expectation In a positive expectation bet, the tables are turned on the house so that the players have the advantage.
What You Need to Succeed a positive expectation for the gambler, but surprisingly, some are out there. One example is in tournaments, where, in many situations, more money is paid out by the casino than is taken in.
I detail a few of these opportunities in Chapters In most casino games, the house has the edge. But you can get an edge over the casino in two ways: You can often find match play coupons in the free fun books distributed by many casinos.
Rip these coupons out and tuck them underneath your bet. In most cases, they essentially double your wager without having to risk any more money.
Promotions can be the best way to secure a positive expectation. Here are a couple of examples: I have played at several casinos where they changed the rules for a short period of time and paid out 2 to 1 on all blackjacks.
This change tipped the odds enough so that even basic-strategy players had nearly a 2 percent edge over the house. Twice an hour, for a short period of time approximately 30 seconds , they generously doubled the payout on certain jackpots.
Most people shrugged off this opportunity as just another marketing gimmick, but it was very lucrative. A friend of mine made six figures a year there playing only a few minutes every hour.
However, one helpful resource for casino promotions and coupons is the Las Vegas Advisor see Appendix B. Another tactic is signing up for casino mailing lists to keep abreast of upcoming special events.
Avoiding Myths, Magic, and Other Superstitions Perhaps the biggest mistake for novice gamblers is making a betting decision based on superstitions or instincts rather than facts.
I can assure you that poker superstars such as Howard Lederer and Phil Hellmuth do not win because they wear their lucky sweater or rely on horoscope readings.
Everything You Need to Know To Start Winners like Lederer and Hellmuth are brilliant in analyzing the complex choices each hand offers in a high-stakes tournament.
This section debunks some common hocus-pocus that gamblers mistakenly turn to. Going with your hunches Using your intuition, going by your gut, and playing a hunch are all paths to ruin.
Sure, you may get lucky and win in the short run, but casinos are geared to outlast you. They have a huge bankroll, and when they have the edge, not even the luckiest person on the planet or even Olga, the All-Knowing Psychic can turn the tables and beat the odds.
He took my machine! I was in Laughlin, Nevada for a few days and decided to join my friend for some easy money during the Double Jackpot Time promotion at the Pioneer Casino.
I found a machine to play, sat down, and then waited for Double Jackpot Time to begin. Only certain machines were included in this promotion, and because I was running late, I was happy I had snagged one.
Unfortunately, an older lady had been playing that same machine all day long and had just walked away for a few minutes to go to the restroom.
She was furious that I had taken her machine. When I tried to appease her by saying I would only be on the machine for a minute, she calmed down slightly but still hovered over my shoulder like an impatient vulture.
Though I was happy, the lady was infuriated. She loudly complained that the jackpot should have been hers.
I finally quit trying to reason with her and waited for the slot attendant to show up. After I was paid, the casino requested all slot customers to play at least one more spin to clear any jackpots from the screen to prevent someone from trying to get paid twice for the same winner.
After I put the coins in and pulled the handle, you can probably guess what happened. The lady, who already believed I had taken her machine, was now livid.
Playing a lucky machine Many people have a favorite slot machine they like to play. After all, gambling at a familiar game is better than taking a chance with one you know nothing about.
However, many players return to the same game because they believe they have found a lucky machine. Write down how much money you start with before you sit down, and then count up what you have when you walk away from the machine.
Breaking the law of probability Many players erroneously believe certain events are due. For example, if the roulette ball lands on a red number five times in a row, some gamblers feel black is due to hit.
But the most likely outcome for the short-term is anything but average. The occurrence of heads and tails will be close to 50 percent, but there still may be thousands more heads than tails.
How does this example relate to gambling? This fact is just the principle of random walk at work; short-term fluctuation is normal in any game.
But can you predict that fluctuation or make money off it? Forecasting the trends Some gamblers mistakenly believe that trends develop in some games — and that smart players can spot these trends and use them to predict the future.
Everything You Need to Know To Start To encourage this strategy, casinos even display previous numbers hit on the roulette wheel and give players paper and pencils to track results at the baccarat table.
The previous results are only meaningful if there were a bias in the machine or wheel. Succumbing to selective memory All gambling superstitions and misconceptions share one common denominator — they all lose in the long run.
Perhaps you have a friend who always wins at slots or crushes the craps tables every trip. The truth is that people do win sometimes — otherwise no one would ever return to the casinos.
But I would speculate that an average gambler finishes ahead about one out of every three trips. Relying on betting systems Gamblers instinctively understand that by wagering the same amount every time, they ultimately fall prey to the law of averages and will lose.
All I need to do is win my big bets and lose my smaller ones. Any betting system that has you change the size of your bet depending on whether you win or lose is considered a progressive system.
Because most gamblers understand that the house has the edge, they vainly search for creative ways to gain the upper hand over the casino.
Betting systems generally come in two flavors: With positive systems, the bettor increases his bet after a win by some predetermined amount. The idea behind a positive system is to ride winning streaks by parlaying profits from one winning bet to the next.
Negative systems are more common; they involve betting more after a loss. The idea behind a negative system is to raise your bet amount to make up for a loss or losses in one single bet.
This section looks at two of the more common systems. What You Need to Succeed My advice: Avoid all progressive betting systems. They may look appealing, but ultimately they all fail.
The Martingale System By far, the best known and most popular progressive gambling system is the Martingale system, which has been around for centuries.
The appeal of the Martingale lies in its simplicity. To many gamblers, the Martingale seems perfect.
However, it has a couple of fatal flaws. The first problem is that by doubling up after every loss, eventually you bump up against the maximum allowable bets in many casinos.
Your losing trips, however, are bone rattling. However, you never go below your starting unit, no matter how many hands you win in a row.
Again, you encounter a lot of small wins punctuated by big losses. Quitting early Another myth is that knowing when to quit saves you money. But quitting just postpones the inevitable results until your next trip.
Your gambling bankroll continues on the next trip, because your money, the dice, and the cards have no memory of what previously happened. Everything You Need to Know To Start Playing less time overall in a negative expectation game can save you money, so in that sense, quitting has value.
Chasing rainbows More than half the U. For most players, gambling is a fun diversion from the normal routine. However, you can easily cross the dangerously thin line from pleasurable pastime to deadly addiction.
One of the best ways to avoid the pitfall of addiction is through education. Your chances of winning increase dramatically if you understand the odds and psychology of the games you play.
You can easily get caught up in the chase. Everyone enjoys winning more than losing, and no one likes to come home defeated.
But you need to remember that no one wins every trip or every day or every session. Gambling is all about educating yourself about the long odds you are facing and selecting the best bets in the casino.
So keep this advice in mind: Losing a small amount and walking away is far better than dumping a bundle trying desperately to get even. When blinded by the possibility of winning more, you can easily end up blowing your gambling bankroll money set aside just for gambling in one evening — or faster.
The prospect of striking it rich in the casino may make you forget that you have other financial obligations — paying the mortgage and feeding your children, to name a couple.
In this chapter, I address nothing more than practical, pragmatic approaches to your money — the cash you come with and hopefully the money you win as you go along.
I arm you with the same sort of no-nonsense advice your accountant or a financial counselor may offer to help you manage your budget and keep track of your wins and losses for Uncle Sam.
Everything You Need to Know to Start Setting a Budget and Sticking to It To enjoy your gambling experience, you must control your gambling experience, which means setting — and sticking to — a budget.
The same goes for a gambling getaway. First you budget for the transportation to your destination, your hotel and food expenses, entertainment tickets, and sightseeing excursions — and how much you plan to spend on gambling.
If your main priority is to retain all of your money, the best advice I can offer you is not to gamble at all.
Casinos are fantastic places where you can check reality at the door. Gambling should be a fun experience, a chance to get away from your daily stress and enjoy the escape that risk and winning can bring.
But when the lines between reality and fantasy blur, when you buy into the dream and forget the budget, you can run into problems, and your money can quickly head south.
You also discover how to stick to your budget and avoid the kind of fun the casino wants to have — at your expense. A good starting point to determine your gambling bankroll is figuring out how much you spend on different types of entertainments and vacations, such as theme parks, ski resorts, or other sightseeing destinations.
Your gambling bankroll needs to reflect fiscal reality. Like all trips, hobbies, or flights of fancy, gambling is a form of entertainment. And, just like that Caribbean cruise, your gambling Chapter 4: As you calculate the cost of your gambling trip, consider its value to you in terms of fun and entertainment.
If you perceive your casino gambling adventure as a form of entertainment similar to, say, dinner at a fine restaurant and an evening at the theater, you can begin to put a price on its value.
Possibly again, although sticker shock may be setting in. Okay, I may sound like a credit counselor, but the money for your gambling vacation should come from your entertainment budget.
Determining your daily limits After you figure out your budget for your gambling adventure whether a fiveday trip to Vegas or just a quick jaunt to a riverboat casino , you need to break down that budget into how much you can spend each day.
But how does your success affect your game plan? The free activities in and around casino towns can be pretty entertaining. Discover the mountain trails of Lake Tahoe, stroll the boardwalk in Atlantic City, or just hang out at the hotel and enjoy the swimming pool or workout room.
A big mistake many people make is getting so engrossed in gambling that they miss out on the attractions of a beautiful resort. Everything You Need to Know to Start Sizing up your bets After splitting your bankroll into daily increments, the next step to budget your gambling is bet sizing, or breaking down your budgeted bankroll into the amount you allocate for each bet.
A general rule for most table games is to have a bankroll with at least 40 times the maximum bet you plan to make.
Proper proportional betting reduces your risk of tapping out going home flat broke. The simplest and safest strategy in most casino games is to bet the same amount each time.
For slots and video poker, that may mean playing the max number of coins or credits each time, if you are playing a progressive machine see Chapters 12 and Most players change the amount they bet on each play — typically increasing the bet size — because of two circumstances: Consequently, they steam, or increase the size of their bets.
Limiting your losses In addition to establishing a budget and portioning it out on a daily — and bet-size — basis, you can employ some simple strategies that help you stay within the framework of your budget.
This section contains a few time-honored methods of limiting your losses. Covering your own butt You may be familiar with stop-loss limits from the stock market.
Stop-loss limits protect your shares from a severe downturn by instructing your broker to sell if a stock falls to a certain price.
Managing Your Money in a Casino You can apply the same rationale to gambling. When you lose your preset amount, stop, head for the door, and spend the rest of the day golfing or sightseeing.
Big comebacks — erasing your gambling debt by winning big — are the stuff of legends. Treat gambling like a vacation, and leave the dreams of making a fortune in the casino for Hollywood movies.
Marathon sessions at the tables usually spell disaster. The longer you play, the more likely you are to lose your focus and perspective. Figure out how to take breaks because they can help you clear your head and protect your bankroll.
Reasons to take breaks abound. Here are just a few: Drink plenty of water so you have to take frequent trips to the powder room. Those short walks stretch both your legs and your bankroll.
Place a few minimum-bet sports wagers over in the sports book see Chapter 15 for more about this intriguing part of the casino. Even better is a real workout at the hotel gym.
Your significant other and family appreciate a check-in call every once in a while. A check-in call can also provide additional restraints for sticking to your budget.
Winning something is better than losing Everyone wants to walk away a winner. So quitting when you win a predetermined amount ensures that you have some winning days during your visit.
Some people set up target goals, such as quitting when they get ahead of their daily bankroll by 50 percent or percent. If you wisely add your profits back into your bankroll rather than spending them , you have a larger buffer to withstand future negative swings.
Keep in mind that quitting early never helps you in the long term because you have absolutely no way of knowing when the cards are going to turn for the day.
But you reap a tremendous psychological benefit if you stop playing when you win a certain amount. Looking at Casino Credit and Its Risks Most people feel safer using credit cards rather than cash on vacation because, if stolen, credit is easier to replace than cash.
But you have to turn that strategy on its head on gambling vacations. If you want to play it safe when gambling, always use cash instead of credit.
The more credit you use or perhaps abuse , the more you have to replace when you get home. This section explains the downside of relying on casino credit.
But there are also some advantages to casino credit, so I explain how to set it up and when to use that credit in a positive way. Grasping casino credit To understand the lure — as well as the danger — of casino credit, you first need to understand it.
Casino credit is no different from store credit, something Chapter 4: Managing Your Money in a Casino most people take advantage of every day.
To make shopping easier, many department stores offer customers a little plastic card with a line of credit. Similarly, the casino offers you a line of credit based on your credit report and the size of your bank account.
This line of credit allows you to borrow money from the casino in order to gamble — either because your funds have run out or because you just prefer not to carry cash.
And taking the next step — playing against your line of credit — can move you one step further from the harsh reality that eventually you have to pay the piper.
Credit is convenient, yes. First, access to credit tends to make some people spend more money than they otherwise would — both in gambling and in the real world.
But with casino credit, the problem is compounded. Definitely steer clear of casino credit if you have an impulsive nature.
Crediting yourself with an account Recognizing that borrowing from the casino can lead to gambling debt is a critical step as you consider managing your bankroll.
Yet credit can benefit people who are extremely disciplined inside the surrealistic confines of the casino.
And casino credit does offer the following clear advantages: Moving up to the champagne and caviar crowd High rollers may want to ignore my warning about the dangers of casino credit.
The main advantage of credit is safety. Traveling to and from casinos with pockets full of C-notes can be a risky proposition. Also, when you gamble with markers, the casino can track your action more easily.
As a result, you qualify for higher levels of comps and make the A-list for special casino events and functions. Other perks may include taking a free limo from the airport and skipping those long, tedious lines at check-in or at restaurants and showrooms.
And frequently casinos comp airfare for their biggest bettors. For exceptionally high rollers, comps can be truly over the top. These perks are certainly appealing and just may entice you to step up to the big leagues.
But remember, for most players, the more they gamble, the more they lose. Bill Gates is, without question, one of the richest men on the planet.
You can set up a casino line of credit in one of two ways: That way your line of credit is available to you as soon as you arrive. Instead, you use markers at the tables to Chapter 4: Managing Your Money in a Casino tap into your line of credit.
A marker is basically a check or I. Keep this fact in mind as you sign a marker for that next baccarat game: At the end of your visit, the casino expects you to write a check to cover the cost of any losses you incurred during your visit.
If you refuse to pay, the casino has the right to post the outstanding markers with your bank for collection from your account. And a line of credit is good only at the casino where you applied.
In your work life, you eliminate uncertainty by accepting a job with a fixed salary. In your daily life, you protect against disaster through a spectrum of safety precautions, from smoke detectors to seat belts.
When you walk into the casino, the house is betting that your unfamiliarity with risk will work in its favor.
Look at how easy establishing a line of credit is and how quickly the little extras, such as comps, make you amenable to spending and risking more money.
Try using one at a casino! Not only are the odds at a casino stacked against you, but so are the ATM fees. In addition to the standard bank charges for using the ATM, the casino hits you with a stiff fee at the terminal.
How can you avoid both fees? Bring a set amount of cash and spend only what you bring. These problems can take many forms beyond simple financial issues; they can affect your relationships as well as your health.
Knowing the odds of failure The best protection you can offer yourself in a casino is knowledge. Having a full understanding of the odds involved with every game allows you to set realistic limits in your play.
Chapter 3 looks more closely at odds, and each chapter on the specific games examines the odds and explains whether the game is worth playing or not.
Knowing thyself You may have packed light for your long-weekend gambling getaway. So be realistic about your own personality and temperament.
If you have the tendency to get a little out of control when things go wrong, then bring along some safeguards in the event you start to lose.
Have a friend hold your wallet, or simply leave access to money beyond your bankroll behind and carry nothing but cash.
Are you a disciplined type? Is adopting positive behaviors, such as daily exercise and saving money, easy for you? Managing Your Money in a Casino tables.
Or are you impulsive and undisciplined? Does a trip to the mall for a package of batteries turn into a shopping spree that sets you back a couple of paychecks?
Do you struggle to stick to a diet? If you lack control in everyday activities, such as shopping and eating, then casinos can become a dangerous diversion.
If you choose to partake in the pleasures and excitement of a casino visit, then, in addition to strictly following the money-management advice in this chapter, you may want to take extra steps to curtail your impulsive side.
One typical lure that pulls gamblers off the cliff of control is chasing your losses. But, you think, if you could just win one big bet, your problem would be erased.
So chasing your losses is tempting, especially in a casino where people seem to be winning all around you.
The sad fact is that most people lose when gambling. And when people lose, they tend to want to get their money back.
When you seek to retrieve that lost money, you start throwing good money after bad, hoping to win it all back.
To avoid losing even more of your gambling bankroll, treat a loss as just that: Say no to the next hand or play, and say yes to some other activity.
Her philosophy is not to fixate on individual sessions or daily results. She feels that — over time — all players get dealt the same cards.
The important difference is how skillfully you play those cards. Everything You Need to Know to Start Sipping, not sinking Part of the casino experience is enjoying the festive atmosphere, bright lights, and free drinks.
But enjoying and exceeding are two different events, and the quickest way to short-circuit your budget is to overindulge at the bar.
Overindulging is tempting, of course, with cocktail servers adeptly appearing just when the game gets tense, graciously slipping a fresh cold drink next to your elbow.
As you sweat a little more, the next drink goes down more quickly. Monitor your drinking as closely as you manage your budget.
If your game of choice requires strategy, then you play better with a clear head. Recognizing a gambling addiction Exceeding your established gambling budget by a few hundred dollars on a trip to Vegas or your nearby riverboat casino is one matter.
Getting yourself tens of thousands of dollars in debt over the course of time is another matter entirely; this sort of trouble is a serious gambling problem.
Gambling addiction is a complex problem far beyond the scope of this book, not to mention this chapter. Some excellent sources and support groups are available to help you fight your addiction and find ways to overcome debt and other related problems.
You can start with an excellent Web site, www. Check out Appendix B for more resources. Managing Your Money in a Casino Understanding Taxes and the Law After I figured out how to count cards with a friend, we tried our skills at the blackjack tables and we both won.
Do you remember that old saying: Only two things are certain in life — death and taxes? In casinos, two outcomes are also inevitable.
First, the house always wins in the long run. Second, when gamblers somehow turn the tables and get lucky in the short run, Uncle Sam wins, too.
You may wonder how Uncle Sam actually gets his share. Deducting your losses and taxing your wins First problem: Classifying taxes on gambling winnings is a complex subject.
The tax code often changes from year to year. One general principle is pretty much etched in stone: All American citizens who win money gambling must pay taxes on their winnings.
In fact, currently U. Nonresident aliens typically pay 30 percent. Proper tax preparation involves separating the wins from the losses. In fact, a recreational gambler can only deduct losses up to the amount of his or her winnings for the year.
Consult with your accountant or tax preparer for specific help with your tax form. Just know that losses are a little trickier than winnings. And you can only offset your wins by losses if you itemize rather than take the standard deduction on your tax return.
So, if your losses are small, they may have no effect at all on your taxes. Unfortunately, you still must pay taxes on your winnings, even though you actually lost.
Welcome to the crazy world of the tax code. Casinos send the W-2G to Uncle Sam, and you get a copy at the end of the year. Make sure you include a copy when you file your return.
Hopeful gamblers may believe they only have to pay taxes on winnings that the casino reports to the IRS. But remember this principle: Underpaying your taxes is a crime.
Counting comps for tax purposes Comps the free perks that casinos give to gamblers pose a gray area in tax reporting. Technically, casino comps are income, but the government is likely to care only when you receive substantial gifts or luxury merchandise, such as an expensive watch or a new speedboat.
Few gamblers lose enough money to have casinos ship them a luxury car for Christmas. Examples of soft costs are hotel accommodations or the dinner buffet.
Check out Chapter 21 for ways to score comps. If gambling is a hobby, which is true Professional gamblers can deduct expenses, but a rigid list of requirements prevents all but a handful of diehards from qualifying as professional gamblers.
The only tax-reducing tool for recreational players is a log of gambling activity see the next section for what you need to record.
Because you can only deduct substantiated losses, you must be able to verify your losses in order to offset your wins. Keeping a log may seem unnecessary for people who expect to show a net loss for the year.
However, one of the appeals of gambling is that the unexpected can happen. For example, you take four trips a year to Vegas and play dollar slot machines.
Keeping a gambling log The IRS addresses the issue of proper record-keeping and documentation for gamblers.
The burden of proof rests on you, the taxpayer, so the better your records, the better your chances of surviving an audit. As of this writing, the withholding is 28 percent for U.
But remember, the tax code changes. Even when the IRS takes a portion of your big win right away, you still have to include that win in your tax return.
Your actual tax obligation may end up being higher or lower, depending on your other deductions and income.
Wagering with a group: An old joke goes like this: Woody takes his yearly trip to Las Vegas. And the word from the IRS is that you can share the tax obligation as well.
Form covers those situations and alerts the IRS that more than one person actually won the prize. But minding your gambling manners is equally important, no matter how you cut the deck.
Instructions on holding your cards with your pinky fingers extended? Admonishments for ladies to draw first? I stand by my pronouncement, but in this context, I broaden the definition of manners to encompass your manner in the casino: Manners are frequently defined not only as a way of behaving according to polite standards but also as the prevailing way of acting in a specific culture or class of people.
And, indeed, a casino exudes its own unique culture, with a social not to mention legal code of conduct. In order for you to fit in and maximize your casino experience, you need to know the code.
Most gambling etiquette harkens to two issues: You also need to know how to fit in, so I also offer advice for tipping dealers and casino personnel and for communicating to others in the middle of a hand.
The Rat Pack wore ties and fedoras as they roamed the Vegas Strip. Traditional players tend to dress to the nines, pulling out their formal evening wear.
Getting comfortable For table play, restaurant dining, or touring the casino, most people go for comfort, especially during the day. Dressing too casually may make you feel out of place and uncomfortable.
And if you hope to get the very best service or even comps, dress like you deserve them. A good rule to remember: In most cases, men should feel comfortable wearing short-sleeved or longsleeved shirts — collared or collarless — jeans, casual pants, or moderatelength shorts, and sneakers or sandals.
Women are safe to consider capris, pants, jeans, skirts, moderate-length shorts, and blouses from long-sleeved to sleeveless.
Some casinos crank up the air conditioning, so taking a sweater is always a wise precaution. So dress in layers that are easy to add and subtract as needed without requiring a full change of clothes Chapter 5: Minding Your Gambling Manners Dressing up for evenings The casino landscape often changes at night, especially on the weekends in the bigger resorts and on cruise ships.
Nothing prevents you from wearing at night what you wear during the day. But looking snappy is part of the fun of casino gaming.
For men, a jacket of some kind is always a winner. Slacks and good dress shoes go well. But what goes in between is up to you. The more adventurous player may go without a button-down collared shirt; the more formal may opt for a necktie.
For women, the range includes dresses, skirts or slacks, fancy tops, and heeled sandals or dressy shoes. He knows the dress code for every place in town and can help you avoid any potential embarrassment.
Most hotels have a concierge on speed dial from the room phones, and if not, their desk is usually adjacent to the front desk.
Smoking permitted sometimes In contrast to almost every public venue, most casinos allow smoking throughout their many public areas and offer only token nonsmoking arenas.
For many gamblers, their entire casino experience depends on the ability to puff while playing. However, you should always check first before you light up, just in case you stumble across a nonsmoking table game or find yourself in a smoke-free section of the casino.
You can also show good manners by asking other players at the table if they mind your firing up a cig or stogie. Earn comps and avoid big losses Bet wisely, beat the house, and bring home the bucks!
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